Learning disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older, 2012

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1 Catalogue no X ISBN Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012 Learning disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older, 2012 by Christine Bizier, Matthew Till and Gradon Nicholls Release date: December 3rd, 2014 Correction date: July 20, 2015

2 How to obtain more information For information about this product or the wide range of services and data available from Statistics Canada, visit our website, You can also contact us by at telephone, from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the following toll-free numbers: Statistical Information Service National telecommunications device for the hearing impaired Fax line Depository Services Program Inquiries line Fax line To access this product This product, Catalogue no X, is available free in electronic format. To obtain a single issue, visit our website, and browse by Key resource > Publications. Standards of service to the public Statistics Canada is committed to serving its clients in a prompt, reliable and courteous manner. To this end, Statistics Canada has developed standards of service that its employees observe. To obtain a copy of these service standards, please contact Statistics Canada toll-free at The service standards are also published on under About us > The agency > Providing services to Canadians. Published by authority of the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada Minister of Industry, 2014 All rights reserved. Use of this publication is governed by the Statistics Canada Open Licence Agreement ( statcan.gc.ca/reference/copyright-droit-auteur-eng.htm). Cette publication est aussi disponible en français. Note of appreciation Canada owes the success of its statistical system to a long standing partnership between Statistics Canada, the citizens of Canada, its businesses, governments and other institutions. Accurate and timely statistical information could not be produced without their continued co operation and goodwill. Standard symbols The following symbols are used in Statistics Canada publications:. not available for any reference period.. not available for a specific reference period... not applicable 0 true zero or a value rounded to zero 0 s value rounded to 0 (zero) where there is a meaningful distinction between true zero and the value that was rounded p preliminary r revised x suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act E use with caution F too unreliable to be published * significantly different from reference category (p < 0.05)

3 Correction notice Correction date: July 20, 2015 Corrections have been made to this product. Please take note of the following changes: As a result of data rounding errors, the following corrections have been made: Counts for dexterity, seeing and developmental disabilities and percentage for seeing in table 1; Percentages for memory (15 to 24 years) and mental health-related (65+ years) in chart 2; Percentage for high school with a disability in chart 3; Percentages in Effect of disability on educational experiences, Educational aids and services and Personal income for working-age adults sections; All percentages in table 2; Percentages for specialized software received and record or note-taking device not received in chart 4; Percentages for 25 to 34 years and 55 to 64 years with a learning disability in chart 5; Percentages for accessibility issues and lack of specialized transportation in chart 6; Median income values in the Personal income for working-age adults were also corrected to include negative and zero values. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

4 Learning disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older, 2012 The results presented in this fact sheet are from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), which surveyed residents of private dwellings who reported an activity limitation and who were aged 15 years and older at the time of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). According to the CSD, respondents are considered to have a disability not only if they report a difficulty or impairment due to a long-term condition or health problem, but also if they report that they are limited in their daily activities as a result of their condition. Appendix A describes how the CSD defines learning disabilities. It should be noted that the population living in institutions, including residential care facilities, was not included in the 2012 CSD. Further details are available in the Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012: Concepts and Methods Guide X According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), 3,775,900 Canadians aged 15 years and older, reported some type of disability, representing 13.7% of the adult population. Approximately 622,300 of the adult population (2.3%) reported a learning disability (Table 1). The most prevalent underlying learning conditions reported included attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other developmental disorders of scholastic skills. 1 Table 1 Prevalence of disability by type, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 Disability type Population Percentage Total disability 3,775, Pain-related 2,664, Flexibility 2,078, Mobility 1,971, Mental health-related 1,059, Dexterity 953, Hearing 874, Seeing 756, Memory 628, Learning 622, Developmental 160, Unknown 79, Note: Individuals may have more than one type of disability; therefore, the sum of all individual disability types is greater than the number of total disabilities. Chart 1 highlights that the prevalence of learning disabilities as a proportion of all disabilities declines with age. Among those aged 15 to 24, 4.4% reported at least one type of disability, and nearly half of them (2.0%) reported a learning disability. Learning disability rates among men and women were not significantly different. 1 These include conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and developmental aphasia ( 4 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

5 Chart 1 Prevalence of learning disabilities and total disabilities by age group, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 percent to 24 years 25 to 44 years 45 to 64 years 65 years and older Age group Learning disabilities Total disabilities Multiple disabilities Learning disabilities frequently co-occurred with other types of disability: 96.3% of respondents who reported a learning disability also reported at least one other type of disability. The pattern of co-occurrence varied by age. Mental health-related disabilities had the highest rate of co-occurrence for adults aged 15 to 24 with a learning disability, while physical disability had the highest rate of co-occurrence for adults aged 25 and older. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

6 Chart 2 Prevalence of co-occurring disability types among adults with a learning disability, by age group, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 percent Developmental Memory Mental health-related Physical Seeing/Hearing Co-occuring disability Note: Physical disability includes mobility, flexibility, dexterity, and pain-related disability types. 15 to 24 years 25 to 64 years 65 years and older. Education Educational attainment Adults with a learning disability 2 had overall lower levels of educational attainment than those who did not have any type of disability. Among adults aged 15 to 64, currently not attending school, those with a learning disability were more likely than adults without any disability to have not completed high school (33.0% versus 13.1%). They were also significantly less likely to have completed post-secondary qualifications 3 (35.6% versus 61.1%). 2 It is important to note that 96.3% of those reporting a learning disability, also reported at least one other type of disability. 3 Post-secondary includes trades certificates, college diplomas, university certificates below bachelor level and university degrees. 6 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

7 Chart 3 Proportion of adults with a learning disability compared to those without any disability, by highest level of education, aged 15 to 64 years, Canada, 2012 percent Less than high school High school Post-secondary Level of education With a learning disability Without any disability Notes: Excludes population still in school. Post-secondary includes trades certificates, college diplomas, university certificates below bachelor level and university degrees. Effect of disability on educational experiences Among adults with a learning disability aged 15 and older who currently were or had recently been in school, almost all (98.0%) stated that their disability directly impacted their educational experience. 4 The most common impacts reported by those with a learning disability were the following: taking longer to achieve education milestones, taking fewer courses and changing their choice of courses or career. Many also reported social difficulties including being avoided or excluded, and being bullied (Table 2). Table 2 Effect of disability on educational experiences for adults with a learning disability, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 Effect of disability Percentage Took longer to achieve current level due to disability 64.6 Took fewer courses due to disability 63.5 Choice of courses/career influenced by disability 63.4 People avoided/excluded you in school due to disability 57.5 Bullied at school because of disability 49.8 Changed course of studies due to disability 49.0 Education interrupted due to disability 47.4 Attended special education classes in regular school 47.2 Discontinued education due to disability 41.4 Note: Learning disabilities includes those in school within the last 5 years and had disability while in school. 4 Note that these individuals could have multiple disabilities, and thus their educational experiences could have been a result of any combination of them. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

8 Educational aids and services Over half (51.4%) of adults with a learning disability aged 15 and older and who recently attended school required some sort of education aid or service. Of these, 93.9% stated that at least some of their needs had been met, while 6.1% felt that none of their needs had been met. The most commonly required supports reported were extensions in time for tests (40.8%) and teacher s aides or tutors (32.7%) and these needs in particular were predominantly met (Chart 4). Technology-based supports, such as specialized software, recording devices, and audio/e-book devices were less likely to be needed. However, adults with a learning disability who reported needing technology-based supports were less likely to receive them. For example, about half (56.0%) of those who stated they required an audio or e-book device received this aid. Chart 4 Met and unmet needs for education aids and services among adults with a learning disability who currently attend or recently attended school, aged 15 years and older, Canada, 2012 Audio or ebook device Recording or note-taking device Specialized software Modified course curriculum Teacher's aide or tutor Extended test time percent Aid needed and received Aid needed but not received Respondents with a learning disability were also asked about learning disability-specific aids and devices, such as computers with voice recognition. Approximately 32.8% stated they needed at least one type of learning aid, and of these 41.2% reported this need was not met. The most commonly stated reason for having an unmet need was the cost associated with the aid or device; 71.6% cited this as the primary reason for not having had their needs met. 8 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

9 Employment Labour force status More than half (63.5%) of adults aged 15 to 64 with a learning disability 5, were not in the labour force, and another (7.7%) were unemployed. The employment rate of working-age adults, aged 15 to 64, with a learning disability was 28.8%, less than half the employment rate for those without any disability (73.6%). Chart 5 Employment rates of adults with a learning disability and without any disability by age group, aged 15 to 64 years, Canada, 2012 percent to 24 years 25 to 34 years 35 to 44 years 45 to 54 years 55 to 64 years Age group With a learning disability Without any disability The low employment levels of adults with a learning disability relative to adults without any disability are observable for all age groups (Chart 5), with the largest relative differences appearing in older ages. Job modifications Among adults with a learning disability, who are or recently had been employed 6, 55.5% stated they needed at least one type of work accommodation. Of these, 71.0% stated at least some of their needs had been met while on the job. The most commonly required accommodations were modified work hours (39.1%) and modified work duties (23.3%). 5 It is important to note that 96.3% of those reporting a learning disability, also reported at least one other type of disability. 6 Includes those who were employed, those who were unemployed and had worked in the past five years, those who were not in the labour force but had worked in the past five years (and were able to work or stated that an accommodation would allow them to work), and those who retired within the past five years who stated that their retirement was involuntary. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

10 Hours worked Employment disadvantage for adults with a learning disability extends beyond the important first step of obtaining a job. Employed adults with a learning disability also worked significantly fewer hours 7 per week on average than those without any disability (28 hours vs. 37 hours). Not in the labour force Many adults with a learning disability, who were not in the labour force, encountered barriers that discouraged them from looking for work. The most commonly cited deterrents to entering the labour force reported by adults with a learning disability were inadequate training or experience, a lack of locally available jobs, and having been unsuccessful in the past (Chart 6). Chart 6 Prevalence of job search barriers among adults with a learning disability who were not in the labour force, aged 15 to 64 years, Canada, 2012 Training/experience is inadequate Few jobs available locally Past attempts were unsuccessful 19.8 Would lose additional supports 17.0 Accessibility issues Experienced discrimination in the past Family responsibilities ,3 Lack of specialized transportation Expected income less than current income ,7 Family/friends discourage percent Note: Excludes those who retired more than five years earlier, those who retired voluntarily, and those who stated they had never worked but that their condition did not limit the amount or kind of work they could perform. 7 Refers to the actual number of hours worked for pay during the week prior to the reference week on the National Household Survey. 10 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

11 Income Personal income for working-age adults Working-age adults (aged 15 to 64) with a learning disability 8 reported a median total personal income 9 of approximately $12,200 less than half that of those without any reported type of disability ($31,200). Adults with a learning disability were more likely to rely on government transfers. 10 Among adults with a learning disability who received government transfers, the median transfer income was $9,470, over five times the amount for those without any disability ($1,650). Furthermore, 63.4% of adults with a learning disability received more from government transfers than they did from employment income, while this was true for only 18.7% of those without any disability. 11 Among those with employment income, median employment incomes for adults with a learning disability were less than half for those without any disability ($15,900 and $34,100 respectively). Conclusion Adults with a learning disability experience difficulties with many aspects of their day to day lives. Poorer educational outcomes, relative to adults without any disability, can be observed for all ages. Lower levels of education and training translate to employment disadvantage and labour force discouragement, and in turn much lower levels of income and higher levels of reliance on government transfers. Furthermore, their learning disability is likely to be one of several disabilities, which in combination, may negatively influence their education and employment experiences. 8 It is important to note that 96.3% of those reporting a learning disability, also reported at least one other type of disability. 9 Personal income estimates include those who received zero or negative income. 10 Government transfers include a variety of transfer payments from federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal governments such as: Old Age Security; Guaranteed Income Supplements; Canada or Quebec Pension Plan; Employment Insurance; Social Assistance; Child Benefits; and other income from government sources. 11 Excludes individuals who did not receive either of the two income types. Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

12 Appendix A Identification of adults with a learning disability The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) identified adults with a learning disability as those whose daily activities were limited because of difficulties caused by a learning condition. The survey used the newly developed Disability Screening Questions (DSQ) to identify disability. The initial step in identifying a learning disability was to establish the existence of a learning condition. This was done using two questions: DSQ_25 Do you think you have a condition that makes it difficult in general for you to learn? This may include learning disabilities such as dyslexia, hyperactivity, attention problems, as well as other conditions. DSQ_26 Has a teacher, doctor or other health care professional ever said that you have a learning disability? Those who answered yes to one or both of these questions received a follow up question to determine how often the condition limited their daily activities: DSQ_27 How often are your daily activities limited by this condition? o Never o Rarely o Sometimes o Often o Always Those who indicated being limited at least rarely were asked another follow up question to determine the amount of difficulty experienced. DSQ_28 How much difficulty do you have with your daily activities because of this condition? o No difficulty o Some difficulty o A lot of difficulty o You cannot do most activities Respondents who reported being limited at least sometimes were automatically considered to have a learning disability. If they reported being limited rarely, they were only considered to have a learning disability if they also reported having a lot of difficulty or if they reported being unable to do most activities. All others were defined as not having a learning disability. An estimated 934,100 Canadian adults reported a learning condition. Of these, 622,300 (2.3% of the adult population) had a disability, while the remaining 311,800 had a condition that either was not limiting or was rarely limiting with some or no difficulty in daily activities. 12 Statistics Canada Catalogue no X

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